The biggest challenges facing our lives on Earth are made up of complex, interconnected parts. People need better ways to understand the full picture.
That’s why we’re here.
Climate Interactive is a not-for-profit organization based in Washington DC. Our team helps people see what works to address climate change and related issues like energy, water, food, and disaster risk reduction. For example:
- We create simulation software used by climate analysts around the world. Thousands have downloaded our freeware C-ROADS simulation, helping them assess and communicate the impact of national strategies.
- We’ve calculated the temperature numbers the media such as the New York Times uses to explain the impacts of the UNFCCC climate negotiations.
- We’ve helped development agencies in East Africa design better strategies to reduce the number of people displaced by extreme events and slow onset disasters, like droughts.
- We work to find and share solutions to climate change that also improve human health, equity, and resilience to extreme events.
Overall, our easy-to-use, tangible, scientifically-grounded tools help people see for themselves what options exist today to create the future they want to see.
When it comes to helping people understand the big picture and see what works to address our biggest challenges, we draw on a suite of approaches, many of them developed at MIT in the fields of system dynamics and organizational learning. Our team benefits from decades of experience and mentorship from leaders like Dana Meadows, John Sterman and Peter Senge.
At Climate Interactive we start with a belief in people.
We believe that when people learn by experiencing rather than being told the facts, they gain a deeper understanding of a challenge and the best ways to address it.
And we believe that, with the right information and experience, people will take the actions necessary to create a future in which we all can thrive.
So our tools, simulations, and trainings are all designed to make people better at understanding and more effective at addressing the complex, interconnected challenges we face. Our tools and approaches help people to:
- Focus on Leverage. After using our simulations people understand, at a deep level, which policies and strategies are more likely to make a big impact.
- See The Big Picture. Often people can only drill down into one area of a complex human/natural system. Our simulations help people see the whole picture and watch it play out over the long-term.
- Learn. When people ask customized “What If” questions and get immediate answers, they build their capacity to act on their insights.
- Communicate Effectively. Teams develop graphs, messages, powerful numbers, and overall communication that enroll other in effective action.
- Ground Conversations. Our simulations bring scientific and economic rigor to group workshops and strategic discussions.
- Stitch Together Analyses. For many complex issues, people will often have access to a number of different sources of numerical and technical analysis. Our modelers integrate and summarize the relevant information and make it useful to the challenges at hand.
How we work:
We create simulation models and interactive tools:
- C-ROADS – an award-winning, fast, accessible climate policy tool used in more than 70 countries.
- En-ROADS – illuminating energy scenarios and busting myths about effective strategy.
- Climate Pathways – a mobile app that puts a climate model in your pocket for fast insights and analysis
- Climate Scoreboard – an online widget that went viral during the Paris climate negotiations and shows how close climate policies get us to our goals
We help organizations improve their strategy:
- We map how the decisions stakeholders face interconnect with other issues.
- We provide counsel on potential solutions.
We inspire audiences to think in systems to understand our current challenges:
- We give keynote speeches
- We lead interactive events like World Climate – where participants ranging from business leaders to graduate students to Chinese government officials work together to reach a policy agreement, learning what it takes to address climate change.
- We teach system dynamics, systems thinking, and organizational learning – many of our staff have taught for over twenty years.
Climate Interactive was founded by Drew Jones and Beth Sawin at Sustainability Institute (now the Donella Meadows Institute) in 2005.
Five roots undergird this Climate Interactive effort.
- The vision of Dana Meadows. Prof. Meadows was a longtime mentor to several our staff and an advocate for the approach at the core of Climate Interactive: combine scientifically-grounded analysis with advanced learning technologies and a positive vision for a sustainable world.
System Dynamics simulation modeling at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Much of our staff are MIT-trained system dynamicists. Our work builds on the global modeling work at MIT in the early 1970s, John Sterman’s ~1979 MIT PHD dissertation on energy dynamics, and Tom Fiddaman’s (now of Ventana Systems) 1997 MIT PhD dissertation on his integrated assessment model, NICE.
Commitment to “open architecture sharing.” As described here, Marv Adams, Mike Richards, Peter Senge (MIT/SoL), Michelle Erickson (Erickson Strategies), Chris Johnson (ifPeople), Drew Jones (Climate Interactive), John Sterman (MIT) and others envisioned a way to impact the world with accessible simulation models by making them available for adaptation and extension.
Investment in contexts and settings for learning. Work at MIT, Sustainability Institute (now the Donella Meadows Institute), and other institutions has built our capacity to create simulation interfaces, role-playing policy exercises, and workshop approaches that help people generate actionable insights from their interaction with simulations and other thinking tools. More specifically, simulation exercises such as the Beer Game, Strategem, and FishBanks Ltd. by Jay Forrester, Dennis Meadows, John Sterman and others, have set us up to design the World Climate Exercise. Further, advancements in how to channel grief and despair about climate futures into productive action by Beth Sawin and Phil Rice in Sustainability Institute’s “Our Climate Ourselves” program has informed our approaches.
Engagement in climate, sustainability, energy, and resilience strategy at national and international levels.